A Classic Cuisine

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The complicated history of northern Italy, as well as its proximity to cooler European countries, means that the food is different from the cuisine of the south. Instead of eating pasta at every meal, the inhabitants tend to vary it with substantial amounts of rice and polenta. The foggy, damp plains of the Po valley are ideal places to grow rice, maize and buckwheat, rather than the durum wheat that makes the best dried pasta. (With that said, Emilia-Romagna is the famous home of delectable fresh egg pasta, which is made in all sorts of shapes.) A multitude of other world-famous products hail from this region, including balsamic vinegar from Modena, and Parma ham and Parmesan cheese from Parma.